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Description

Splendid Near-Gem 1915-S Panama-Pacific
Fifty Dollar Octagonal

1915-S $50 Panama-Pacific 50 Dollar Octagonal MS64 PCGS. Bowers' commemorative coins Guide Book notes that the 1915-S Panama-Pacifics hearken back, with their Roman numeral dating MCMXV, to the MCMVII (1907) Saint-Gaudens Ultra High Relief and High Relief double eagles. released less than a decade earlier. But Robert Aitken's design is in a class all its own, paying reverent homage to the past while original in spirit and execution. Both sides symbolize wisdom, one female, one avian in the guises of a helmeted Athena and a great horned owl. The neoclassical design was a great artistic success, but few collectors of the era were sufficiently affluent to afford the $100 price of obtaining a specimen, or for the same price collectors could choose either a round or octagonal fifty, along with the other three lower-denomination coins in a leather case.
The octagonal coins also hearken back to the historic Augustus Humbert/U.S. Assay Office octagonal coins produced during the momentous California Gold Rush in 1851 and 1852. While the round Pan-Pacs have the lowest net distribution of any classic or modern commemorative issue, the octagonals are more appealing to many collectors, both for the added historicity and for the attractive row of swimming dolphins around the periphery. The unusual shape of the octagonals also meant that fewer were eventually melted than of the round variety, but both are extremely elusive and popular.
Most of the Pan-Pacs, round and octagonal, that were stored in their original cases or frames over the decades are fortunately well-preserved, so that most examples at both services hover around the MS64 grade of the present example, while PCGS has certified only 18 coins finer (10/09). Only the most minor signs of contact on Athena's cheek appear to keep this piece from achieving a Gem grade, as the overall eye appeal, strike, and absence of distractions certainly put it close to that level. The apricot-gold surfaces of this splendid coin have acquired a mellow patina that serves to further enhance the already broad appeal.
From The Steven Forcier Collection of U.S. Classic Commemoratives.(Registry values: P7) (NGC ID# 26HN, PCGS# 7452)

View all of [The Steven Forcier Collection of U.S. Classic Commemoratives ]

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Auction Dates
December, 2009
3rd-6th
Internet/Mail/Phone Bidders: 13
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